My speciality is designing workouts for individuals with specific sport performance goals and helping athletes come back from injury. I also get lots of requests to design programs for people like me who are looking to stay fit and lean while minimizing additional wear and tear on their body.
I understand this battle. On the one hand intensity and hard work bring results. On the other hand, half a lifetime of competitive sport takes its toll and keeping our joints healthy is more important than hitting a personal best in the gym.
From my perspective, the pendulum in the fitness industry has swung from a focus on just getting moving to the average person wanting to perform high intensity lifting and training with specific training goals. While this might bring a lot of motivation, I think the long-term sustainability of this approach is extremely low.
The bottom line is that our bodies are not designed to withstand repeated high intensity loading. While certain people train this way and escape the laws of joint biomechanics, the majority will see promising short-term results at the expense of long-term health and function.
As much as hitting a personal best at the age 0f 35 or 40 is a nice idea, it’s simply not sustainable over a lifetime. At some point you have to let go of the “dream” and accept the “reality”.
I’m looking for the biggest bang for my buck using training methods that are the least negatively stressful on my body (note: I said negatively stressful; I want positive stress or stress that causes a favourable adaptive response).
This doesn’t mean training is easy. Easy training will get you nowhere.
The key to a training program’s success is creating a meaningful energy flux (i.e. creating a disturbance in energy balance) and stimulating the body’s adaptive response. The more frequently we cause an energy flux, the better the results. The better our timing of changing the training stimulus in light of the body’s non-linear change in its adaptive response, the better the results.
However, the energy flux has to be achieved with movements that impose the least possible joint load. As a PhD trainee, I have spent many hours observing arthroscopic knee procedures in young athletes and older athletes alike. What I can tell you with certainty is that participation in high intensity sport activities and injury lead to articular cartilage degeneration in both the older athlete and the younger athlete.
Joint degeneration is somewhat unavoidable but the amount of degeneration we experience and how we manage its progression once we have it can be controlled.
So, if you were a high level gymnast, football player, or hockey player, and you put your body through hell for 15 years with high level competition, there’s no way that continuing to expose your joints to excessive loading makes sense especially if you can get fit and lean using a smarter approach.
My training philosophy is based on well established training principles and on the relevant scientific data focused on adaptations to training. My workouts are also based on my 15 years of experience as a strength and power coach to some of the World’s best athletes.
In an effort to find the ideal approach to training for myself, I am constantly seeking a balance between results and keeping my body healthy.
You will like this training philosophy if:
1. You’re looking to be fit and stay injury free.
2. Like me, you’re busy and your time is limited.
3. You want to stay lean and you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck.
4. You are ok with leaving your name off the personal best lifting record board because you’ve been there, done that, and the record board is for the competitive athlete.
You won’t like this training philosophy if:
1. You’re attempting to relive your glory days or missed opportunities as an athlete and you’re wanting to hit personal best lifts in the gym.
2. You’re a competitive athlete with performance goals.
3. You’re a strength training rookie (i.e. you have less than one year’s experience in the gym)
4. You’re battling with an injury.
Basic Training Principles:
The basic principles are straightforward:
1. Use a combination of simple whole-body multi-joint movements in each workout.
2. Periodize your workouts, microcycles (5-7 day cycle) and mesocycles (2-4 week cycle) to provide optimal gains by alternating between periods of higher volume (extensification) and higher intensity (intensification).
3. Train to failure with maximal loads sparingly.
4. Manipulate rest intervals and tempo to achieve the training overload.
5. Use MSK-friendly movements whenever possible and avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the joints.
6. No form of exercise is off limits. The key to this program is obtaining a meaningful energy flux. As long as you’re working and sweating, almost all exercise modalities from circuits to intervals to higher intensity strength training to steady state exercise is fair game.
I will try to contribute new workouts and ideas regularly.
Feel free to send me comments or feedback.
Train hard, and train smart.